Boiled using a 2 gallon wort... :/

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...instead of a 3 gallon.

How badly will this affect the beer? I just racked it off today and it smelled great for as far as long as it's been, but i tasted it and it seemed a little week. I used all the same amount of ingredients and the boil went fine, am i still looking at a weak beer?
 

SumnerH

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Most likely off-notes will be:
1) a darker colored beer
2) some off-flavors from browning/caramelization of your extracts

Possibly lower hoppiness, too.

But it shouldn't be ruined. Usually the bigger a boil you do the better (for color and flavor), but a 2 gallon is still going to make beer.

Assuming you're doing extract, it won't be any weaker (you still added the same total amount of extract, right?)
 

ArcaneXor

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If I understand correctly, you did a concentrated 2-gallon boil instead of a 3-gallon boil your recipe was designed for?

If that was the case, you likely ended up with a slightly darker beer and less hop utilization (i.e. a somewhat less bitter beer).

There are ways to do concentrated boils without these drawbacks (although 2 gallons is a very small volume) - search "late extract addition", and you should be able to find plenty of information on how to do concentrated boils successfully.
 
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okay, second question. (much appreciated for the quick responses to the first)

if bitterness goes down with the size of the boil, could that method be used constructively to reduce bitterness of an ale? could it be used to your advantage, i guess it what i'm asking. or should that all be accomplished by the characteristics of the hops / boil time?
 

ArcaneXor

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okay, second question. (much appreciated for the quick responses to the first)

if bitterness goes down with the size of the boil, could that method be used constructively to reduce bitterness of an ale? could it be used to your advantage, i guess it what i'm asking. or should that all be accomplished by the characteristics of the hops / boil time?
There are better/cheaper/more effective ways to reduce both real and perceived bitterness in a beer, because concentrated boils have noticeable, adverse effects on the overall flavor and aroma of the beer (at least if you don't use the late extract addition method).

The most obvious way to reduce actual bitterness to simply reduce the size of the bittering addition, which also saves money. The type of hops also matters - a low cohumalone hop will produce a smoother bitterness than high cohumalone hops, which tend to taste harsher. I use German Magnum hops for bittering in almost all my beer for this very reason.

To reduce perceived bitterness, you could use low-sulfate water or do first-wort hopping (which I suppose could be done with steeping grains if you steep them in a relatively small volume of water).

Using software like Beersmith is very helpful when it comes to estimating bitterness (at least actual bitterness) derived from various hops and hopping schedules.
 

SumnerH

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okay, second question. (much appreciated for the quick responses to the first)

if bitterness goes down with the size of the boil, could that method be used constructively to reduce bitterness of an ale?
That's a big "if". It probably does go down somewhat (for correlated reasons; the concentration of the wort doesn't directly affect hops utilization itself), but not a whole ton and certainly not to the extent that the formulas commonly used for bittering would say. There's a whole thread on this over in the brew science forum.

The conclusion that John Palmer came to in his interview on the subject was that even if a smaller boil doesn't hurt hop utilization, you should still do as big a boil as possible (and a late extract addition) because of the other issues with caramelization and color.

If you want to reduce bitterness, just use less bittering hops. You'll save money (put the leftover in a ziploc bag in the freezer).
 

SumnerH

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Using software like Beersmith is very helpful when it comes to estimating bitterness (at least actual bitterness) derived from various hops and hopping schedules.
+1 on this, but don't use the corrections that software uses for partial boils, and be leery of the numbers in recipes that use a lot of simple sugar (they'll underestimate bitterness) or a lot of wheat/rye (they'll overestimate bitterness).

https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f128/estimating-bitterness-algorithms-state-art-109681/ for more discussion of flaws in current bittering algorithms.
 

viking999

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The conclusion that John Palmer came to in his interview on the subject was that even if a smaller boil doesn't hurt hop utilization, you should still do as big a boil as possible (and a late extract addition) because of the other issues with caramelization and color.
Although, didn't he also conclude that you lose more alpha acids if you have a higher concentration of break material? It's not a factor in extract only recipes, but would come into play if you have some grains.
 

SumnerH

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Although, didn't he also conclude that you lose more alpha acids if you have a higher concentration of break material? It's not a factor in extract only recipes, but would come into play if you have some grains.
He concluded that it at least goes down with more total break material; there was no conclusion about the concentration of the break (either way--that it does or does not affect the amount of isometerized alphas removed) that I remember.

That's kinda why I hedged with "it probably does go down somewhat (for correlated reasons; the concentration of the wort doesn't directly affect hops utilization itself)"--there are probably some factors that make the smaller boil have at least slightly lower utilization.

But if you run, say, Tinseth calculations (the other formulas are off by about the same degree, I just ran Tinseth because it's what I usually use), they'll tell you that a 2.5 gallon boil needs 60% more bittering hops than a full 5-gallon boil to reach the same IBUs, and that's just plain wrong. If there is a difference it's a lot closer to 10%.
 
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